Welcome to the draft that I believe is going to be the poster child for supply and demand. I believe that many independent scouts are going to HATE how this draft shakes down, and I understand it. I believe they’re going to lose their skulls at which players get passed on, and which get reached on. But to quote Alonzo (Denzel Washington) from Training Day:
The amount of complimentary wingers in this draft is ridiculous. I counted 49 of Bob McKenzie’s list of 100 to be complementary wingers (the way I see them anyway). That’s not an insult to the players, it’s just that I see them being guys who need the right centres to work with. 49 of 100. So it’s not going to be difficult to find that type of player.
What will be difficult to find are defenceman. This draft is really poor when it comes to D-men, especially puck-moving D-men. There are a couple of guys in the West that I personally like for that role, but most don’t seem to be too high on them. It’s also lacking two-way centres. If you’re aware of how hockey works…D-men and centres are in pretty high demand! It’s already not overly difficult to find wingers, specifically undersized skilled wingers. The Wild were about to bail on Kevin Fiala this season before he popped. Sonny Milano was being shopped eventually ending up in Anaheim. Rocco Grimaldi has bounced around a lot in his short time in the league. The Leafs have Jeremy Bracco just sitting in the AHL. Wingers are ALWAYS available because they aren’t tough to find. I say it every year, and every year people get on Twitter and bitch about teams “overthinking it” when it comes to the draft. It’s supply and demand, and I believe this draft is going to show that more than any other has in a long time.
The way I do this is I look at what organizations have about 26 or 27 and under. These are not the picks I would make for these teams, this is me attempting to project what I believe the teams will make. I look hard at organizational need. I don’t believe a team should EVER make a pick based on a current need, but it does happen from time to time. I do understand given how difficult it is to make trades these days why teams would pick for organizational need. I’m ok with that theory but within a tier. I also look for patterns in drafting that teams show. Some teams love certain CHL leagues, some love the DP, some love Sweden, Finland, etc. Everyone has their scout whose opinion they trust the most. Finally, I mostly go off Bob McKenzie’s rankings since it is compiled from scouts around the league and therefore the best gauge we have as to what teams are thinking.
You are likely asking yourself “Soups you dumb fuck…there are 16 teams with the exact same odds right now who could win the lottery, how can you simply pull one team?” Good question. I didn’t pull one team out. Instead, I’m simply putting Lafrenière 1st to no team, and I’ll make 31 selections after that. Is it perfect? No, but I felt like doing a mock draft to give people an idea of what teams might do with their selections.
I don’t go off it for my mock drafts, but if you’re interested, my final rankings for the 2020 draft (a top 64 list) is also out now, and you can check that out here.
And if you would prefer to listen to the podcast on this list instead, you can check that out here.
Without a doubt, this is who will be the top pick. One of those 16 teams are getting a damn good prospect. He’s not a generational guy, but he’s close. I apologize to the fans of the teams who were in the lottery and didn’t win it, but man…this is some good drama.
Other Option: Trade down – this will be a player for the rest of these, but I don’t believe there is another player a team would consider with this pick. The Sens could put together one HELL of a trade offer if they wanted to. If the right team wins the pick…I highly doubt it, but you never know.
Possible Reach: Quinton Byfield – you can make the argument for him. He’s a legitimate centre, he’s got the size advantage, he’s got the skating advantage, he’s 10 months younger, and he was producing at a better pace this season than Lafrenière was last season, in a better league. But it has about a 0.000000000000000000004% chance of happening.
It is a toss-up between Byfield and Stützle. I’m saying Byfield for a few reasons. 1) the Kings LOVE the OHL. Now, that might be a Mike Futa thing, who is no longer with the organization. But the way they’ve drafted in recent years, they might love the OHL more than any other team in the league. 2) the Kings won with size, especially down the middle. While the regime that won is mostly gone, the people still in the organization were also with the King at that time. 3) I can’t imagine the league wouldn’t be pushing hard for the Kings to take a potential star of African descent. Byfield in Ottawa wouldn’t have the impact that Byfield in a major U.S. market like L.A. would have. It would be massive for the league. Right or wrong, I believe it’ll play a factor in this decision.
Other Option: Tim Stützle – again, it’s 50/50. I know what I just wrote, but we’re splitting hairs. Stützle would likely be the pick for most teams as he’s the riser, just think Byfield ends up being the Kings guy.
Possible Reach: Jamie Drysdale – as I just said with Byfield, they love the OHL, but was that a Mike Futa thing or is it an organizational thing? They really need to start the rebuild on the backend.
Originally San Jose’s pick sent to Ottawa in the Erik Karlsson trade. Highly likely that what happens here is that the Sens simply take the guy the Kings don’t. So, in this case, it’s Stützle. Some debate whether or not he can play the middle. I believe he can, and I believe he has 1st line centre ability which the Sens really need.
Other Option: Jamie Drysdale– I say Drysdale, but essentially it’s Drysdale or Sanderson because if they happen to love one of them more than the other and want to ensure they land him, then with the 5th pick in their possession they could afford to take that guy here and then maybe Rossi at five.
Possible Reach: Marco Rossi – same idea as Drysdale. Perhaps they’ll love the kid playing in their backyard so much that they ensure they get him. By the stats, you can justify it.
Risers always go higher than expected. I can’t put Sanderson above this spot, but he’s going top five in my opinion and it’s just a matter of whether or not the Wings pull the trigger at four, or the Sens do it at five. Honestly, I don’t get it, I prefer Drysdale, but it seems to be what always happens. I’d love this for the Wings though. Sure, last year they took Moritz Seider with their top pick, but that blueline still has a ton of work to be done.
Other Option: Cole Perfetti – I’m not ready to go here yet, but man alive is Sam Cosentino ever confident that they’re going to make this selection and if they do it is for ALL the wrong reasons! This team needs to find pieces that can get them back to contender status, not complimentary wingers who have ties to the front office. But Sammy Coz seems extremely confident that they’re going to take Perfetti. I wonder if a trade back with Jersey to the 7th pick maybe makes sense if this is what they want to do? I’ll explain later.
Possible Reach: Yaroslav Askarov – Give this some real thought for a minute. The Wings are still a LONG ways off. They won’t be ready to win for another three years in my opinion. He is going to be three or four years before he’s even ready for NHL action. Goaltending prospects like this rarely come around. And finally, Yzerman had amazing success taking Andrei Vasilevskiy in the 1st round in 2012. I can actually make a strong case for it.
To walk out of this draft with Stützle and Drysdale would be massive for this organization as you’d legitimately getting a potential franchise centre and a potential franchise defenceman. They have stocked the shelves somewhat on D, but I don’t think teams ever feel as though they have enough.
Other Option: Marco Rossi – would make a ton of sense here, and while I prefer that they take a D-man with this pick, and believe they will, shoring up centre is never a bad thing.
Possible Reach: Yaroslav Askarov – 2nd in a row for Askarov. I should clarify that he wouldn’t be a reach for me as I have him 6th, and in the same tier as Drysdale and Rossi. But for most, he’d be considered a reach at four or five. Again though, pretty damn rare for goaltending prospects like this to come along.
The Ducks could really use some franchise pillars. They actually have some really nice young talent, not to mention guys like Lindholm and Gibson who are still young enough to rebuild around. But those are the only pillar type pieces I believe they have. Trevor Zegras MIGHT get there, Sam Steel MIGHT get there, Isaac Lundestrom MIGHT get there, but no sure things. I’m not sure Raymond is that guy either, but he’s close. And this organization has hit some home runs drafting out of Sweden so it makes a lot of sense.
Other Option: Cole Perfetti – I don’t like him over Raymond, and I don’t like him for the Ducks, but it sure seems like he is the apple of most NHL scouts eye.
Possible Reach: Kaiden Guhle – for the same reason that Sam Cosentino loves Perfetti to go to Detroit, keep your head up about this one for the Ducks. All the ties between the Ducks and the P.A. Raiders organization, Kaiden’s brother Brendan is in their system, and the Ducks have a need for defencemen in their organization right now.
It’s actually just ironic that I brought up the whole Perfetti thing with Detroit. Truth be told I didn’t think of that being a possibility until after. But the Devils could package this pick with one of their other 1st rounders (should they end up with at least an extra 1st, could end up with three) to move up to the 4th pick and take the defenceman they pretty badly need, then the Wings could take Perfetti here if that’s in fact who they want. But I don’t do trades, and they so rarely happen within the draft anymore, so the Devils stand pat and take the player with perhaps the highest hockey IQ in the draft.
Other Option: Yaroslav Askarov – this is what I had in the mini mock I did. The Devils don’t have a quality goaltender in the system despite taking one in each of the last five drafts (though McKenzie Blackwood looks like he’s legit, I’m talking about in the system). I really believe the Sabres won’t pass on him, but if the Devils want him and own at least two 1st rounders, I can see them ensuring they get him with this pick.
Possible Reach: Braden Schneider – I strongly believe they’ll look to address their blueline in this draft. They have pieces, but not nearly enough. This depends on how many picks they end up having. If it’s the worst-case scenario and this ends up being their only 1st rounder…they might reach here and I could see Schneider being their guy.
I just don’t think he’s getting past this point. In no way does Askarov solve their goaltending issues today, and I know they have Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen in the system. But I just have a feeling that new GM Kevyn Adams will want to do everything he can this off-season to ensure they no longer have any goaltending issues.
Other Option: Marco Rossi – makes a ton of sense for the Sabres, because while he’s small, he could be that perfect fit of a 2C playing behind Eichel who can do a ton of heavy lifting eating up a lot of tough minutes. And he’s ready to make the jump now.
Possible Reach: Hendrix Lapierre – for the exact same reasons I just laid out as to why they might go with Rossi. Get ready to see him in this spot a lot, because if he has a clean bill of health, teams will have a ton of interest.
How is it possible that the Habs continually end up with the small forward?! Yet, here we are again. He’d be a great pick for them though. I’m sure he’d remind Habs fans a lot of former captain Saku Koivu. He might have more offensive upside than Koivu though, we’ll see how the skating can progress. But a potential 1st line centre who has a great 200-foot game would be huge for them despite that fact that Rossi isn’t.
Other Option: Seth Jarvis – even though he ended up 18th on McKenzie’s list, Bob was even adamant that it was a bit of a fluke that it ended up that way and it’s much more likely that he goes in the top 10. He should, there are no holes with Jarvis, just needs to continue progressing.
Possible Reach: Hendrix Lapierre – fits for the same reasons as Rossi, and they would likely know him better than most being a kid in the Q (although he grew up in Gatineau which is the Ottawa region, and played in Chicoutimi which is North of Quebec City, so not exactly a local product)
In this scenario, I fully expect him to be their guy. They LOVE skill. Look at their last two drafts in particular. It’s clear they now just taking the most skill they can get their hands on, which is sound strategy! More teams should consider it!
Other Option: Alexander Holtz – most have Holtz ahead of Jarvis in their rankings. I believe Jarvis would be the Hawks pick ahead of Holtz given how much they love pure skill, but Holtz might fit their needs a little better if they went with a winger.
Possible Reach: Lukas Reichel – not at all a reach for me on my board, but for most, I think it would be pretty stunning to see Reichel go in the top 10. He is their kind of player though.
Originally Arizona’s pick sent to New Jersey in the Taylor Hall trade. As I said earlier, a trade up with the Wings sure would make a lot of sense and help them avoid reaching like this (it’s not a BIG reach, Bob has him 17th). But if no trades are made, I believe the Devils are going to have to take a defenceman here. I don’t think Schneider or Guhle would make it down to 17 (18 on here, but it would be the 17th pick). And I think Schneider would be their guy if you’re going for need. He’s a RH shot which is a much bigger need, and he’s ready to step in where Guhle needs time. Even though it’s a need pick, a pairing of Ty Smith and Schneider down the road could be something pretty damn good.
Other Option: Kaiden Guhle – I think he’s the better prospect between himself and Schneider, but he’s a LHD and they need a RHD. So it wouldn’t be shocking, but I’d be a bit surprised given their needs.
Possible Reach: Justin Barron – the only way this would even possibly happen is if the Canucks lose out and the Devils don’t get their 1st because they would be able to get Barron or any of the other D-men I didn’t mention above at 17. Barron remained in Bob’s top 31 (25th) despite having a disastrous season. Most had him as their 2nd best D-man entering the season.
I didn’t realize how bleak things are on this blueline for the Wild moving forward. YIKES! They own the Pens 1st rounder as well, so it might not be viewed as a huge need for them to take one here. But I really believe teams are going to reach pretty good on defencemen in this draft, even though this wouldn’t be a reach at all on my board, or McKenzie’s.
Other Option: Alexander Holtz – he’s now falling for where most people have him. As I said, Chicago might make sense, and perhaps Minny does too if their staff views him as someone they simply can’t pass on?
Possible Reach: Justin Barron – not really any logic here other than just a possibility of them liking another defenceman. I’d suggest they trade down if they’re thinking Barron here, but that’s so much easier said than done.
Does anyone else notice how much they have kept going back to the well in Finland? They’ve taken six in the last five drafts. They also have a need down the middle, they believe in heavy more than speed, I have a strong suspicion that Lundell will be their guy. I was thinking a defenceman here for a long time, and I do think that’s possible, but after giving this thought, a centre probably makes more sense with this pick.
Other Option: Ridly Greig – the Wheat Kings are no longer the closest junior team to the Jets anymore, but I’d still consider them to be in their backyard. Add to that, centre is a need, the GM knows the Wheat Kings VERY well, I’m sure he knows Ridly’s dad pretty damn well given they were in the same draft (1990) and would have played against each other a ton. They also aren’t afraid to take the guy they love. Mark Scheifele and Josh Morrissey were both off the board picks.
Possible Reach: Jack Finley – this isn’t that big of a reach according to my board, but it sure would be according to McKenzie’s as Finley is 55th for it! But, you know all those reasons I just gave for Greig? Yeah…well, Jeff Finley is a scout for the Jets…if Steve Tambellini were the Jets GM, this would be a lock!
The Rangers badly need a high-end centre in their system, and not only have a deep system to take a risk like this, but they also own another 1st. Obviously this isn’t happening unless the medical checks out with Lapierre, but given he was 15th on McKenzie’s final list, I’m guessing it will.
Other Option: Alexander Holtz – I’m well aware this is getting absurd for him and one other forward. Not by my board, but by most.
Possible Reach: Dylan Holloway – this one sucks, it’s only a reach for me, McKenzie has him 16th. But I will say that while Bob suggests Jarvis will go higher than his board says, I believe Holloway will go lower. In a way, he’s boom or bust. Potential to be a Dylan Larkin type centre, but I believe he’s only going to be a top-nine forward.
I just can’t let him fall any further. In addition to that, the need for the Panthers is D and there really isn’t one worthy of going 15 left on the board. A trade back here would make a lot of sense given their needs and when a kid like Holtz falls like this, someone who may need him jumps up. Maybe Calgary? Not sure if they’d have the trade ammo though. Ottawa? They have one more pick in the 1st as long as the Islanders don’t win the top pick, but I could see them actually preferring Jack Quinn given they’d know him well.
Other Option: Jack Quinn – who do people like better between Holtz and Quinn? I’m Quinn all day long personally. Plus, the Panthers have gone to the OHL well a lot in the past.
Possible Reach: William Wallinder – I could see someone falling in love with him because of the size/skating combination. And given that they need D pretty badly, they’d make a lot of sense.
They like their risers. With their last two 1st rounders they’ve taken a guy who was a late riser (Dubois and Foudy). I’m honestly a little worried about having Reichel down here as I believe he’s a player who teams are going to fall in love with. The one thing about risers is they always go earlier than anyone expects. Reichel going 16th I don’t think would be much of a shocker for people at this point.
Other Option: Jack Quinn – wonder how much Flames fans love me right about now?
Possible Reach: Helge Grans – they MIGHT go D here and while Grans is still a ways off, the upside is definitely there.
This would be a gift for the Flames. What scares me for the Flames though is they have a BIG need in my opinion for D-men in the organization, and if you hear people outside of Dean Molberg and myself talk about their needs, D never gets brought up. I could be wrong though. Anyway, they get their RW that they’ve been so desperate to land, and Quinn might be able to step in next season.
Other Option: Dawson Mercer – very similar idea here to Quinn. I can’t imagine if Quinn or perhaps Holtz fell to them that they would consider anyone else, but crazier things have happened.
Possible Reach: Ozzy Wiesblatt – not in any way would he be a reach for me (16th), but Bob has him 40th. I don’t get that at all having covered the dub prospects this season, but then again Daemon Hunt at 44 seems completely crazy the other way. I still believe Wiesblatt will go in the 1st round, and he’s a Calgary kid so I’m sure the Flames know him very well.
Originally Vancouver’s pick sent to Tampa Bay in the J.T. Miller trade and then sent to New Jersey in the Blake Coleman trade. I think Mercer falling to this pick would be a bit of a surprise for some, and the Devils would be thrilled to get him. Such a safe pick and even though I’d never take a kid for this reason, he’s close to being ready to step in.
Other Option: Jacob Perreault – he scares me, but there will be a team who take a home run hack at Perreault. And a team with, in this scenario, three 1st round picks makes a lot of sense to do that.
Possible Reach: Topi Niemelä – I could be boring here and suggest some of the D-men I’ve already mentioned, but what’s the fun in that?! I’m telling you, teams are going to reach on D and centres given the lack of them in this draft.
This is nothing of a need, but I just have a feeling a kid like Greig would be their guy in this scenario. They love the high motor guys and will sacrifice a bit of skill for it. They (like a lot of teams I’ve mentioned) have a big need on the blueline in their system. But they own Jersey’s 2nd along with their own, so it would perhaps be wiser to be patient and get a D-man at 38 or 50.
Other Option: William Wallinder – notice I don’t have this as my reach pick. According to Bob’s list, he wouldn’t really be a reach by this point even though he would be for me, so it’s possible.
Possible Reach: Victor Persson – one of my guys! Well, I was far from first on him, but I sure grew to love him. Same philosophy in that the biggest need is on D.
Originally Toronto’s pick sent to Carolina in the Patrick Marleau trade. I feel very confident in having this as their pick. They’ll take the best talent on the board. They’ve simply taken the best skill on the board in the last few drafts and that is Perreault in this scenario.
Other Option: Rodion Amirov – again, they’ll take the biggest skill that’s on the board. I haven’t got the sense that they care about much else, and it’s a philosophy that works…
Possible Reach: Brendan Brisson – same idea, but Brisson isn’t projected to go for another 10 picks.
I don’t know if they’d take a Russian kid or not. This regime took Evgeny Svechnikov in 2015, and that pick hasn’t gone well. But they took two in last years draft, so I have to believe they would. Amirov scares me because of the bust rate of Russian forwards, which gets even worse when you talk about kids who stayed home rather than came to North America to play junior. But if you’re just talking about talent, Amirov definitely fits the bill.
Other Option: Connor Zary – I’ve been pounding the table for them to address centre for four drafts now. Yes, McDavid and Draisaitl, but they have NOTHING coming in the organization. If Greig fell to this pick, I’d be good with him. Zary scares me a little, but he does fill the need, and McKenzie has him in this range.
Possible Reach: Ozzy Wiesblatt – he would be my pick for them. I think he fits perfectly.
Originally the Islanders pick sent to Ottawa in the J.G. Pageau trade. They can afford to take a swing like this on a talent like Wallinder, especially if they get one of Drysdale or Sanderson. They’ve had great success with Swedish born kids over the years, and are terrific at developing their kids. So it would be a great spot for Wallinder to land as well.
Other Option: Helge Grans – same idea, and it’s so difficult to say which one of these two will be first off the board. So much upside, but both are so raw.
Possible Reach: Ronan Seeley – they’ve drafted a lot of kids out of the West in general (so including tier II) the last two drafts. So if they were looking at a D-man and their trusted Western scouts are pounding the table for anyone, maybe it’s Seeley? I love him, but he didn’t make McKenzie’s list.
I’m not sure this is where the Stars would pick. On one hand, according to points percentage and leaving them out of the final four, it should be. But, will the teams who got the “bye” to the playoffs all automatically have the bottom eight picks? Oh well, this mocks for fun, we knew that already. ANYWAY…according to their recent draft history, the Stars will take either a kid from the OHL, or a Swede. That’s where they’ve gone heavy in their last two drafts. I don’t have Foerster high, but most have him either late 1st or early 2nd. For me, the speed scares me. But the Stars took a kid out of the OHL very similar back in 2017, Jason Robertson. One thing for sure, the Stars need some talent up front. This team can’t score, and don’t appear to have scoring coming.
Other Option: Jan Mysak – also fits the OHL bill, and in my opinion at least he is much more of a safe pick.
Possible Reach: Luke Evangelista – this one will be interesting. He piqued my interest late, but I really like him. I have a feeling he’s going somewhere in the 1st.
Originally the Hurricanes pick sent to the Rangers in the Brady Skjei trade. It will be the lower of the two picks that the Hurricanes own (the Maple Leafs is the other) going to the Rangers, and at the moment that is this pick. I won’t lie, this is a bit of a hunch. I’m basically just looking at who they might view as the biggest talent left on the board as that’s where I believe they’d go. I think their D is set at least for a bit (I was bigger on both Miller and Lundkvist who they took in 2018 than most were), and maybe they look to address centre even further despite me having them taking Lapierre with the earlier pick. I believe Mysak will be a winger, but he has the potential to play the middle as he currently does. Good skill though and that’s the main thing.
Other Option: Dylan Holloway – kind of similar to Mysak in that they’re both guys who I would draft believing they’re wingers but the potential is there to play the middle. They would have seen him lots this season given he was a teammate of K’Andre Miller.
Possible Reach: Marat Khusnutdinov – he’s not THAT far off the board. Bob has him at 35, and I put him at 36, but it’s far enough. He fits their needs, especially if they don’t take a centre like I have them doing at 13. And they aren’t afraid to take Russian kids.
Originally Pittsburgh’s pick sent to Minnesota in the Jason Zucker trade. I don’t know if I like this pick for the Wild. I believe they’d go with either another D-man here or a centre. They addressed D with the 12th pick, so I THINK centre is the move here, but if they see what I see with Holloway then they don’t view him as a centre. Organizations can be stubborn though and believe they can mould players to get their max. It’s also tough to say exactly what they’ll do given this is Bill Guerin’s first draft. I don’t believe they overturned the scouting staff, so I don’t THINK we’ll see much difference in their drafting, and the reason I bring that up is that in the last two drafts they’ve gone heavy with kids playing the States. Holloway is a Calgary kid, but as you can read this was his freshman season at Wisconsin.
Other Option: Jack Finley – they need a centre, and I was going to say Zary. But I’d guess they would know Finley well given he was playing with 2019 pick Adam Beckman a lot this season (not near as much on the same line as some will have you believe). So I actually think Finley could be on the radar here. Plus, while I’m well aware that I’m higher on Finley than most if not all, I really believe he’s going to be taken late in the 1st round.
Possible Reach: Tyler Kleven – D-man and somewhat local (North Dakota). Not only from North Dakota, but going to North Dakota. Getting the local kids is bigger for some organizations than others, and the Wild are one of those organizations.
I’m noticing a pattern with the Flyers the last few years. They have loved drafting kids out of the US system in general. It isn’t all USHL, USHS, the DP, it’s been all of them. So with that in mind, and Brisson being in this range for everyone, he’s the guy I got them taking here.
Other Option: Mavrik Bourque – they used to love kids out of the Q, but that seemed to fade out under Hextall’s regime. Will it return now that Paul Holmgren has a puppet in place as his GM? I’m kidding guys…Chuck Fletcher isn’t a puppet, he just does whatever his owner or in this case his superior tells him to do. Puppets are made of felt, he’s a human.
Possible Reach: Sam Colangelo – same idea as Brisson, and his teammate with the Chicago Steel this season. Colangelo would also give them some size which the Flyers could actually use.
Originally Tampa Bay’s pick sent to San Jose in the Barclay Goodrow trade. When Ryan Merkley is rated your best prospect, and you’re picking third, except you traded that third pick for a defenceman who now costs 11 million a year and is no better than a number three D-man at this point, and you have four other contracts that are complete boat anchors moving forward…I just can’t stress enough how disgusting of a situation they’re in. They frankly could go anywhere with this pick, and frankly, this is a total hunch. Where did Ryan Merkley play this season? London. They likely would have seen Evangelista a lot, and I also just really believe a late riser like Evangelista is going to go in the 1st round despite being 50th on McKenzie’s board. I’d select someone who is more of a need for them, except they need everything…I can’t stress enough how disgusting of a situation they’re in. Wait, I said that already? Well, I’ll say it one more time that I CAN’T STRESS ENOUGH HOW FLAT OUT MOTHER FUCKING DISGUSTING OF A SITUATION THEY’RE IN! I can’t stress it enough…
Other Option: Noel Gunler – I wonder how much a kid being close to ready will factor into their thought process here because again this is just such a disaster right now. Gunler is a late 01 who played in the SHL this season, so he might not be far from playing.
Possible Reach: Jérémie Poirier – they do Merkley all over again. In fairness to Poirier, he doesn’t have the baggage, just Merkley’s defensive game. That’s not a compliment.
They badly need D. I wonder if they’d try to trade up to get Braden Schneider? The problem with that is they’d need to move WAY up to get him, and they don’t have much to deal. But you talk about a fit, that fits the need, ties to the organization, everything. Barring that, I believe Grans makes sense here. It’s a need pick, but it’s no reach.
Other Option: Topi Niemelä – same idea, and I can easily make the case for both guys. The upside with Grans is better, but Niemelä is the safer bet.
Possible Reach: Daemon Hunt – I do not get how so many scouts still have him so high on their board, but they do. He’s not a RH D-man, but he’s a D-man who hails from Brandon, Manitoba. Where was Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon previously the GM for about three decades?…
I’ll be interested to see what happens with Peterka on draft day/night/whatever time of day they end up having it. It feels like people are souring on him, maybe seeing him as more of just a top-nine winger who puts up 30-40 points a season and is great on the PK thanks to that speed. Even if that’s the case, his speed would fit perfectly with the Avs, and nobody is going to write off the possibility that he can be a top-six guy.
Other Option: Connor Zary – they pretty clearly have a philosophy of “it doesn’t matter how many centres we take”, which I love. Because it doesn’t, they can always play the wing and are much more often than not good in all three zones. So Zary is definitely a possibility for them.
Possible Reach: Ty Smilanic – this isn’t a big reach according to McKenzie’s list as they have him at 39, but it is for me as I have him last on my top 64. I can make a case for someone loving him though, and he’s a Denver kid.
So, I know they just did this last year, going heavy on…well…heavy in the draft (Protas and Leason). But they love the WHL, they love heavy hockey, and I can’t help but think that they’ll love Finley. I think Finley will have their eye and also the Blues with the next pick.
Other Option: Connor Zary – even though I’m much more of a Finley guy, most have Zary much further ahead. I don’t get it, because when you really dig into comparing the two, Finley gets almost every checkmark.
Possible Reach: Shakir Mukhamadullin– they could easily go with a D-man here, and there is a really good hidden gem in the dub with Ronan Seeley. But we all know the Caps success drafting Russian kids, and Mukhamadullin is a kid they may love. I don’t have him in my top 64, just too many red flags for me, but he’s 42nd on McKenzie’s list.
A lot of the WHL kids in this range feel like kids the Blues love. Finley, Zary, Wiesblatt, Neighbours, they all feel like guys the Blues would have big interest in because they’re all made to play heavy hockey. I’m saying Zary is the pick because Finley is now off the board, and the other two aren’t centres.
Other Option: Jake Neighbours – I basically just laid out why I believe this makes a lot of sense.
Possible Reach: Daniel Torgersson – as much as I believe they’d love a lot of the dub kids here, they’ve only taken one kid from the West in general in the last three drafts (Joel Hofer). Torgersson is a kid who also fits the Doug Armstrong philosophy, plus he’s a great skater.
Originally Boston’s pick sent to Anaheim in the Ondrej Kase trade. Remember the ties to the P.A. Raiders I talked about? I cringe a little at this one for a few reasons. For starters, they badly need D-men in their system and with two picks in the 1st round, I can’t imagine they’d walk away from the laptop having taken two wingers with those picks. The other reason is that I’m such a big Wiesblatt fan and I don’t like the Ducks. But he’s a Bob Murray type of player.
Other Option: Justin Barron – I fully admit, it’s more likely that they take a D-man with this pick. If they do, there is a higher-ranked one still on the board. Barron was 25th on McKenzie’s final list.
Possible Reach: Victor Persson – not even on McKenzie’s top 100 list, but those who like him REALLY like him. RHD with good size, great mobility and can really move the puck seems like a damn good kid to grab while you can. As I talked about when I put Raymond to them at 6, they’ve hit some home runs taking Swedish kids.